Some things just don’t make sense to me. For example, why isn’t phonetic spelling spelled the way it sounds? Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii? Why do you need a driver’s license to buy liquor when you can’t drive and drink? Why is it when you transport something by car it’s called a shipment, but when you transport something by ship it’s called cargo?
In a similar sense, for many years, it didn’t make sense to me that some people, who had so much going for them, achieved so little. And why other people, who had so little going for them, achieved so much.
Then I learned the difference can be explained by whether or not you make three decisions in your life. When you make these three decisions, you are unstoppable. Neglect these three decisions and you will struggle forever.
I urge you to not only familiarize yourself with these three decisions but to do something about them … TODAY.
► 1. I have decided to believe in myself and what I’m doing.
If you’re going to be a winner, you’ve got to believe in yourself. There’s no other alternative. As author Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe wrote, “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
How much do you trust yourself? Do you have all the confidence you need?
It’s a critical question that deserves an equally critical answer. Leadership expert Sheila Murray Bethel discovered, “Of all the communication you do, none is more important than how you talk to yourself. Your internal confidence has more to do with your success in life than any other factor.”
Did you catch that last sentence? It’s worth repeating. “Your internal confidence has more to do with your success in life than any other factor.”
And yet, the sad truth is most people have too much self-doubt and too little self-confidence. Psychologist Dr. Terry Paulson found that 80% of the self-talk in people is negative.
That’s why you and lots of other people need an I-can’t funeral. That’s what Donna’s fourth grade class needed.
To teach them a life-changing lesson in confidence, Donna had everyone write a list of “I can’t” statements. For ten minutes, her students wrote such things as “I can’t kick the soccer ball past second base … I can’t do long division with more than three numerals… and … I can’t get Debbie to like me.” They were then instructed to fold the papers in half and bring them to the front. They placed their “I Can’t” statements into an empty shoe box.
The students followed Donna out the door and down the hall. Along the way they picked up a shovel in the janitor’s closet, marched outside, and dug a hole to bury their “I Cant’s.”
At this point Donna announced,
“Boys and girls, please join hands and bow your heads.” She continued, “Friends, we gather here today to honor the memory of ‘I Can’t.’ While he was with us here on earth, he touched the lives of everyone, some more than others. We have provided ‘I Can’t’ with a final resting place and a headstone that contains his epitaph.
“He is survived by his brothers and sisters, ‘I Can,’ ‘I Will,’ and ‘I’m Going to Right Away.’ They are not as well-known as their famous relative and are certainly not as strong and powerful yet. Perhaps someday, with your help, they will make an even bigger mark on the world. May ‘I Can’t’ rest in peace and may everyone present pick up their lives and move forward in his absence. Amen.”
When they all went back inside, they cut out a large tombstone from butcher paper. She wrote the words ‘I Can’t’ at the top and put RIP in the middle. The date was added at the bottom. The paper tombstone hung in Donna’s classroom for the remainder of the year.
On those rare occasions when a student forgot and said, “I Can’t,” Donna simply pointed to the RIP sign. The student then remembered that “I Can’t” was dead and chose to rephrase the statement.
Decades later, those students remembered that experience and said it changed their lives for forever.
► 2. I have decided to succeed.
Have you decided — actually decided — to succeed? That’s a lot stronger and more definitive than merely hoping you will succeed.
You see … losers say, “If at first you don’t succeed, no one will be surprised.” But not winners. They say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” They’ve chosen and they’ve decided to succeed even before they start.
Torivio Ortega is one such person. He realized that migrant farm workers needed a full-fledged courtroom attorney who understood and cared about their plight. And he decided to help them.
Without the benefit of a college education, he managed to pass a college equivalency test that got him into law school. Four difficult years later he graduated.
But his greatest challenge now lay before him … the state bar examination. Five times he struggled to pass the exam. Five times he failed. But he had decided in advance that he would succeed and on his sixth attempt he passed.
So he went on, of course, to do the very thing he desired to do — to help the people he cared about.
Could the same thing be said of you? That you have absolutely, unequivocally decided to succeed? Then you are on the right road indeed.
► 3. I have decided to persist until the job is done, despite any roadblocks.
Winners keep on keeping on, even when things are difficult. Losers quit.
Let me give you an example as to how this works.
I read recently the documented story of a man who accidentally trapped himself inside a refrigerated railroad car. He became frantic, pounding on the door and screaming, but nobody heard him.
He knew that no human being could survive in that kind of an environment so he settled into a corner of the car and began to scrawl his last thoughts on the wall.
“I am becoming very cold. I do not have long to live anymore. I can tell that death is coming close to me. I can feel it very near. These may well be my last words.” And they were!
When the refrigerator car door was opened, they found the man dead. But here’s what’s so amazing. The refrigeration unit had not been working for a month. There was still enough oxygen in the railroad car to sustain life, even when they found his body. But the most amazing thing was that the lowest temperature during the man’s entrapment was 58 degrees! He did not die of cold. He did not die of suffocation.
There is only one thing that killed him. He had not made this third decision … that “I have decided to persist until the job is done, despite any roadblocks.”